The ST Guide To... living with an on-going house renovation

Deciding how to renovate your home can be overwhelming. Throw in the actual construction and painting work needed, and many homeowners might be put off from actually going ahead with any renovation plans.

However, some do not have much choice, for example, those who live in old Housing Board flats.

Since 2007, the Housing Board's Home Improvement Programme has been offered to such residents to take care of common problems such as spalling concrete, structural cracks and replacing waste pipes.

These come under HDB's "essential improvements". Homeowners can also choose "optional improvements" such as upgrading their toilets.

Between last year and this year, about 100,000 households have been offered HIP. Depending on how much work needs to be done, renovations under HIP will last either four or 10 working days.

For those undergoing HIP renovations, or want to renovate their house on their own, we offer tips on how to survive an on-going home renovation.


A portable toilet installed in a kitchen undergoing renovation. PHOTO: ST FILE

Dirty surfaces and loud drilling can be a pain to live with, especially if your renovation process is long. And you would not want to be in the way of the contractors when they are working.

Also, you may not have running water, working toilets or electricity at times.

So, consider moving out while the work is ongoing.

An easy solution would be to bunk in with relatives or friends who have extra bedrooms - and do not mind your company for an extended period.

Alternatively, if you can afford it, check yourself into a hotel or a service apartment that comes complete with a kitchenette.

Orchid Country Club, off Yishun Avenue 1, launched its 7-Day Refit Getaway @ Orchid Lodge promotion in January. The club noticed many homeowners in the area checking in while they carried out renovation works at home.

The $1,000 hotel package, which is open to the public, gets you a week's stay in a 44 sq m deluxe room with one queen-sized bed and a single-sized bed. Guests have complimentary use of the pool, sauna and gym, and free Internet access and parking too. You can do your laundry at the club's coin-operated laundromat, eat at its dining outlets and pick up groceries at a supermarket on-site.

Ms Joan Tay, head of marketing communications and membership, says that Orchid Lodge gets an average of five packages booked in a month, and the promotion may be extended beyond December.

Also consider looking at home rental sites such as Airbnb and Roomorama. With many properties listed around the island, you are bound to find a place near your own flat so that you can easily return home to check on how your renovation is progressing.


If you do not want to move out, and are renovating multiple rooms in your home, have your contractor leave at least one room that you can occupy and keep your important belongings. Also, consider putting locks on the doors of this room as an added safety precaution.

For HIP, at least one adult - either the homeowner or an authorised friend or relative - has to be present in the house while works are being carried out.

Dustproof this room that you will be temporarily staying in during the renovations, or rooms that are not affected by the renovation.

Aside from keeping bedroom doors closed, you can use plastic drop cloths that are easily found at hardware and paint stores to keep some of the dust out, and cover your furniture as well.

One product to check out is the Nippon Paint plastic drop cloth that measures 2.7m by3.6m.

For those under the HIP programme, homeowners have to use a common toilet in the void deck. At night, a portable toilet that comes with a heated shower, is installed inside the flat so that homeowners do not have to head to the void deck. The toilet is dismantled the next day so that it does not get in the way of construction work.

For those who are renovating on their own, ask your contractor to leave at least one working bathroom available during the renovation period.


Self storage company Extra Space at Boon Keng Road. PHOTO: ST FILE

Bulky furniture pieces can get in the way of construction work and painting. And you would not want to have precious artwork, clothes, bags or gadgets covered in dust or paint, or worse, risk them being broken.

Put these items in a self-storage facility such as StoreFriendly or Extra Space Asia. You can pick a storage unit big or small enough to hold your belongings.

At StoreFriendly, the smallest space up for rent is a 16-sq ft locker, and costs $88 for two weeks.

The pricing for storage units at Extra Space Asia differs, depending on how big the unit its, where the storage facility is and if the unit you pick is air conditioned. The smallest option is an 11-sq ft locker, which can be rented for a minimum of two weeks. It costs about $60 a month for a locker of this size.

Some companies offer boxes and have pick-up services too.

For example, Work+Store works on a "valet" concept. They send over free plastic boxes which come with anti-tamper seals for regular-sized items. You can also leave odd-sized items such as luggage and sports equipment with them too.

Work+Store charges monthly rates, from $12 a month for a box, and offers free pick-up of packed boxes and bulky items.


NTUC FairPrice customers shopping at the City Square Mall outlet. PHOTO: ST FILE

Home renovation and design platform Houzz Singapore's editor Chiquit Torrente also suggests that homeowners stock up on non-perishable food items during the renovation period as your refrigerator may be disconnected from the power supply.

Move some appliances such as toasters or microwaves out of the kitchen and to an easily accessible place so that you can still use them.

Also buy food that is easy to prepare, or consider eating out during the renovation period. This lessens the hassle of having to clean cooking utensils and cutlery.

She says: "Disposable cutlery and plates are a good idea, too."